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[186] As the shares in the unproductive stock were of little
Chap. V.} 1623.
value, the contests were chiefly for power; and were not so much the wranglings of disappointed merchants, as the struggle of political leaders. The meetings of the company, which now consisted of a thousand adventurers, of whom two hundred or more usually appeared at the quarter courts,1 were the scenes for freedom of debate, where the patriots, who in parliament advocated the cause of liberty, triumphantly opposed the decrees of the privy council on subjects connected with the rights of Virginia. The unsuccessful party in the company naturally found an ally in the king; it could hope for success only by establishing the supremacy of his prerogative; and the monarch, dissatisfied at having intrusted to others the control of the colony, now desired to recover the influence of which he was deprived by a charter of his own concession. Besides, he disliked the freedom of debate. ‘The Virginia courts,’ said Gondeman, the Spanish envoy, to King James, ‘are but a seminary to a seditious parliament.’2 Yet the people of England, regarding only the failure of their extravagant hopes in the American plantations, took little interest in the progress of the controversy which now grew up between the monarch and the corporation; and the inhabitants of the colony were still more indifferent spectators of the strife, which related, not to their liberties, but to their immediate sovereign.3 Besides, there was something of retributive justice in the royal proceedings. The present proprietors enjoyed their privileges in consequence of a wrong done to the original patentees,

1 Stith, 282—286.

2 New Description, II. Mass. Hist. Coll. IX. 113.

3 Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, 152, 153.

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